Parents frequently tell their children, “Chew your food! You don’t have teeth in your stomach!” In fact, we have lots of enzymes in the body that break food down like very tiny teeth. But enzymes can’t break down big particles of food.
One of the main underlying diseases in my holistic dermatology practice is allergy. Food allergy, in particular, is aggravated and sometimes caused by improper digestion. To keep digestion at its best, follow these top five tips that will help your complexion as well as your digestion:
When you eat, you are literally re-creating your body with each bite you consume, incorporating new molecules into your being. Eat your meals sitting at a dining table (not while reading, watching TV, or driving) Chew your food completely, enjoying each bite with each of your senses.
Boost your digestion by taking “bitters” before you eat, ginger tea, or enzymes after you eat.
Avoid liquids one half hour before and one hour after meals, sipping water sparingly if you’re thirsty. This is because liquids kill the “fire of digestion” in the stomach, diluting enzymes that break food into usable components.
Your mood matters almost as much as your food. Find a way to eat in a peaceful mood, avoiding eating when angry, sad, or fearful.
After a brief rest, take a walk after your meal. This helps the body keep the metabolism up.
We have an opportunity, to champion the health of the skin of the planet on which we live. The health of that layer affects all life on Earth, and subsequently the health of humans.
Many parallels can be drawn between the health of our environmental “skin” and the skin of the individual. By drawing on these parallels, we can make it easier to have a clear overview of environmental issues that affect the health of the human body and the skin in particular.
For example, we can look at how a “chemical burn” to the Ozone layer of the earth results in more danger of a sunburn to various layers of the skin. Exploring the causes of the “chemical burn” and the different ways to prevent it, educating ourselves and the public, and engaging everyone in finding a win-win solution to the problem makes this into an exciting game.
The goal is to improve health and well-being by improving conditions in the surface of the earth in which we live.
If you’re looking for a way to balance out some of the negative effects of environmental toxins, a good way is to start eating more vegetables in the broccoli family. This includes cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, arugula, and brussels sprouts among others.
Recent studies have demonstrated that broccoli’s chemical composition could help reduce the risk of cancer and, I believe, acne as well, because of the neutralizing effect these chemicals have on acne-triggering estrogen.
Broccoli is rich in vitamin C, carotenoids (vitamin A-like substances), fiber, calcium, and folate as well as phytochemicals that may have anti-cancer properties.
For example, broccoli contains several compounds called isothiocyanates, including sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which are being explored for possible anti-cancer agents. Some studies have also suggested they
may alter body estrogen levels, which might affect breast cancer risk. Some studies have shown these substances may act as antioxidants and may boost the body’s detoxifying enzymes.
Another chemical in broccoli called indole-3-carbinol (I3C), seems to alter estrogen levels and may also raise levels of protective enzymes in the body. Lab studies have shown it may slow or stop the growth of breast, prostate, and other cancer cell lines.
Some early studies in animals have shown similar results. Small studies in humans have found it may prevent the development of precancerous growths in the cervix, as well as growths (papillomas) in the throat. While more, larger studies need to be done to confirm and expand our knowledge of the benefits, I recommend that people eat more broccoli and foods in the brassicaceae family for good health.
It is the beginning of the New Year, so I want to wish the best to all of you and to our world.
I would like to share some very exciting news with you. I was invited to go to India to be a featured speaker for an International Symposium on Integrative and Holistic Dermatology. To my knowledge, this was the first Symposium on Holistic and Integrative Dermatology sponsored by an academic Dermatology department, ever on the planet. On December 4, I gave three lectures on various aspects of holistic dermatology, and participated in a panel wrapping up the session at the Dermatology Department of Kasturba Medical College in Manipal University in Manipal, located in South West India. It was quite an experience to be honored by having the opportunity to teach about the approach to treating skin disease, and to do so to eager listeners halfway around the world. I have already heard from Dr. Shenoi, the head of the department, that what I presented was well received, and has given rise to new ways to treat difficult cases at the hospital there. In addition, my listeners were awakened to the neglected aspect of nutrition in Dermatology.
My knowledge was also enhanced by hearing the two other speakers, one of whom I had met when she was just entering this field of study.
I had a chance in Manipal to see the Ayurvedic department and the Yoga department at the medical center, which represents an integration of traditional care with conventional medical care that is rare in India as it is throughout the world. We spent a morning at a naturopathic hospital, which focused on diet and physical modalities for healing. Cleansing diet, simplicity, spirituality, and beauty of the surroundings, and yoga, were mainstays of the healing program there beyond the diet and other cleansing processes.
One of the other Integrative Dermatology speakers, Dr. S. I. Narahari, was having anopening of his new clinic for Applied Dermatology, and invited me to participate in the dedication and speak at his 5th annual National symposium. The physicians from all over India, honored mentor dermatologist Dr. Terrence Ryan from England,the press, and many people from the local government were present. More than 15 patients with elephantiasis were presented to a group of over 25 dermatologists and other physicians. Between presentations, I was asked by Dr. Narahari and a government minister to help design studies on nutrition and skin disease as, it relates to rural India. I am excited about being able to help those who might otherwise not receive care, and about extending studies in nutritional dermatology that can have a more widespread benefit.
To recover from jet lag on arriving in India, I spent the first 4 days in an Ayurvedic Spa, where I experienced the famous medicinal oil massages and hot herbal applications. We were treated to a visit to the associated third-generation manufacturing plant, which used age-old processes to manufacture Ayurvedic remedies. It has taken time for me to recover from the travels during flu season, so I finally writing to you now.
What has been most amazing to me are the similarities between several thousand-year old Ayurvedic concepts and what I am now doing, incorporating what is now being called functional medicine into my practice of dermatology. This will be thesubject of some of my letters and blogs in the future.
According to an article published online ahead of print Oct 26 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, there was a significantly increased incidence of both food sensitization and filaggrin mutations in children who went on to developeczema and asthma.
A filiggrin is a protein related to penetration of foreign materials through the skin that has been found to be defective in a proportion of patients with atopic dermatitis, commonly known as eczema. The risk of being allergic to foods was up to 5 times as great in association with eczema as compared with those who did not have eczema.
Here’s what I have to say about this: despite the naysayers over the years who have claimed that eczema is not related to diet, this study from Germany shows an association between food allergy and eczema and asthma. I want to emphasize that in my experience, it takes more than food sensitivity testing and elimination to control food allergy manifestations.
Working with digestion, gut flora, and gut health, helps to reduce food allergy, and has proven to be helpful in reducing the incidence and severity of atopic dermatitis in infants, children and adults, as well as the severity of other inflammatory skin diseases.
Especially sensible is in normalizing these factors before starting pregnancy, if this planning is possible, and there is a history of atopy (asthma, hay fever, eczema) in you or your family. More about this important issue in a later blog.